Yet another shark attacked a surfer as he sat on his board off the coast of Oahu’s north shore. The 25-year-old surfer punched the shark repeatedly until it let go of his leg, but he was left in critical condition.
Witnesses told CNN affiliate KHON that the surfer was sitting on his board offshore of Leftovers Beach when a shark attacked him from below. The shark struck at the surfer’s leg, and it was immediately apparent that he was in trouble.
The victim, identified as 25-year-old Colin Cook, reportedly punched the shark several times, until it let go of his leg.
Severely injured and bleeding, Cook then did his best to swim toward help.
“He swam on his own free will to another surfer who threw him onto his board and paddled straight to shore,” Cook’s cousin Chris Webster told KHON.
ABC News reports that Cook and the other surfer were also assisted by a kayaker, and that several others jumped into action to help once the group was ashore.
Witness Drew Zarba told KHON that Cook’s own surfboard leash was used as an improvised tourniquet to tie off his shredded leg.
“He was screaming ‘shark’ and ‘help,'” Zarba told KHON. “I grabbed the surfboard and I laid it down right here as he was pulling off his leash off.”
According to CNN, Honolulu Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright credited Zarba and the others for their quick thinking, as the improvised tourniquet prevented Cook from bleeding out before official help could arrive.
With the improvised tourniquet on his leg, Cook was then placed on a surfboard and carried to the nearby highway where emergency services personnel were able to transfer him to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu.
According to USA Today, doctors at Queens Medical Center later amputated Cook’s leg due to damage caused by the shark attack, and the young man was left in critical condition.
In addition to the severe leg damage that Cook suffered, he also endured lacerations to his hands. According to Enright, that type of injury can be caused by the razor sharp denticles that cover the skin of sharks, which indicates that Cook did, in fact, punch his attacker to fend it off.
Witnesses at Leftovers Beach told KHON that the shark that attacked Cook was between 10 and 12 feet long, but officials were unable to comment on the size or species of the shark as it didn’t stick around.
CNN reports that Ocean Safety lifeguards posted “shark sighted” warning signs along north shore beaches and alerted swimmers in the area. This marks the fifth shark attack in Hawaii this year, one of which was fatal.
According to USA Today, shark attacks are abnormally high this year, with 23 out of an average 30 or 40 having already happened by early July.
Over the labor day weekend, in a twist of events, a great white beached itself on a Cape Cod beach. Instead of fleeing, or seeking retribution for the increased number of shark attacks this year, the labor day beachgoers banded together to save the shark.
Although they dug a channel and pulled the great white back into the ocean, officials reported that it later died.
It isn’t clear what has caused the uptick in shark attacks this year, although the proximity of surfers, swimmers, divers, and fishermen to sharks often lead to confrontations between sharks and humans.
Do you think that there’s something behind the recent increase in shark attacks on surfers like Colin Cook, swimmers, kayakers, and others, or is it just a meaningless anomaly?
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